Publication in European Journal of Social Psychology

Our latest article titled “Group-based shame, guilt and regret across cultures” has just been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Together with our collaborators, Marlies and Juliette examined to what extent people (N=1,358) experience shame, guilt, and regret when their group (e.g., country, community, family) has done wrong, and compared this across eight diverse countries: Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United States. We assessed whether any differences in these experiences can be explained by the extent to which people endorse more collectivistic or individualistic values, or live in a country where such values are more salient. 

Overall, our findings suggest that people’s emotional responses to wrongdoing varies more than previous research indicates, and that group-based shame in particular may be more prevalent than previously assumed (see figure). The differences in people’s experiences of these emotions mostly depends on who has done the wrong. We also see some variation across countries, which can be partially explained by the endorsement of individualist and collectivistic values by people themselves and in their countries. The results highlight the importance of taking into account individual and cultural values when studying group-based emotions, as well as the different identity groups involved in the wrongdoing.

The paper, available as an open access article, can be found here:

de Groot, M., Schaafsma, J., Castelain, T., Malinowska, K., Mann, L., Ohtsubo, Y., Wulandari, M. T. A., Bataineh, R. F., Fry, D. P., Goudbeek, M., & Suryani, A. (2022). Group-Based Shame, Guilt, and Regret across Cultures. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1–15.

Belgian Prime Minister Apologizes for Treatment of ´Metissen´

The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has formally apologized on April 4, 2019 for the treatment of children out of mixed relations, so-called ´Metissen´. Hundreds of children were taken from their mothers in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi and placed in orphanages in Belgium during the 1940s and 1950s. Many mothers and their children are still searching for each other. The Roman Catholic church apologized for its role years ago but Belgium has always been unresponsive to calls for apologies and reparations.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, established in 2002 by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, visited Belgium in February 2019 at the invitation of the Belgian Government. The Working Group will publish its full report in September 2019 but advised the Belgian Government on a number of points and urged it ´to issue an apology for the atrocities committed during colonization´.

New Apologies for the Jeju Island Massacre, South Korea

On the day of the yearly commemorations on Jeju Island, April 3, 2019, of the massacre of civilians the commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency apologized and the Ministry of Defense expressed ‘deep regret and condolences to the Jeju people who were sacrificed in the process of a crackdown.’ This has never been said before by neither of them. Juliette Schaafsma and Marieke Zoodsma were in in South Korea and attended to the commemorations on the island.

April 3, 1948 was the start of the Jeju uprising, which was violently suppressed by the South Korean Government, killing between ten thousand and thirty thousand civilians over a period of six years. The South Korean Government apologized for its role in the killings in 2003. President Roh Moo-hyun spoke of ‘a tragedy of the modern history of Korea’.

Apologies asked by Mexico for ‘Conquista’ 500 years ago

Mexico has formally asked apologies from Spain and the Vatican for human rights abuses during the conquest of the region, 500 years ago.
The Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has written letters to the Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Franciscus some weeks ago, he told during a visit on March 26, 2019 to the ruins of the Maya city near Comalcalco. The President stated that ‘(t)he time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.’ He did not ask for financial compensation.
The Spanish Government has already ‘firmly rejected’ the plead for apologies.

Murder Charges Following Formal Apologies

Former British ‘Soldier F’ faces murder charges over the killing of two people during ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Londonderry in 1972, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) stated on March 14, 2019. Soldier F also faces charges of attempted murder on five people. The PPS said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute 16 other soldiers and two Official IRA men.
Prime minister David Cameron issued formal apologies in 2010 after the Saville Inquiry into the death of 14 people by British Paratroopers. The Saville Inquiry concluded that none of those killed was armed with firearms and no warning was given by the soldiers. David Cameron said the casualties were caused by the soldiers ‘losing their self control’.

Dutch Government Called to Apologize for Mistreatment of ‘Moffenmeiden’

In a letter to Prime Minister Rutte, a foundation (‘Werkgroep Herkenning’) has asked the Dutch Government to apologize for the mistreatment of women after the Nazi occupation in May 1945. These women had been involved with German soldiers during the war.

Since 1981, the Foundation strives for ‘Herkenning’ (acknowledgement) of this ‘last taboo’. It states that, while angry mobs humiliated the women and shaved them bold, the government did not intervene.

In its letter, the Foundation refers to the recent apologies of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg to the so-called ‘German Girls’. In the Netherlands, the plight of the ‘Moffenmeiden’ (‘Mof’ is a derogatory word for German) and of the offspring of ‘colaborators’ is still a controversial topic.

Canadian Apologies for Rejection of Jewish Refugees in 1939

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized on November 9, 2018 in Ottowa for the decision of the Canadian Government in 1939 to turn away the M.S. St. Louis, an ocean liner carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Many ended in concentration camps; 254 were killed in the Holocaust. Trudeau met the only surviving Canadian passenger from the ship.

The apologies were long overdue, Trudeau stated: ‘We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy, our resentment. We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. And we are sorry for not apologizing sooner.’ He spoke about the need to fight anti-semitism, ten days after a deadly shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Some critics, after four formal apologies since Trudeau’s election in 2015, have called ‘I’m sorry’ Canadian’s ‘second national anthem’ and wonder if the often used words are losing their meaning.

Australian Apologies for Child Abuse

Following a five year’s investigation by a Royal Commission, the Australian Government on October 22, 2018 has apologized for not having protected tens of thousands of children, victims of sexual abuse during dozens of years.

Sixty percent of child abuse took place within the Australian Roman Catholic Church. Against the proposals by the Royal Commission to prevent child abuse, priests will not be compelled to report to authorities any admissions of abuse.

Hundreds of victims and family members attended an emotional session of the Australian Parliamant in Canberra, broadcast live across the country, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison fought back his tears and said he ‘understood the anger’.

Norwegian Apologies for Mistreatment of ‘German Girls’ after World War II

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has apologized on October 17, 2018 to women, and their offspring, who were mistreated after World War II because of their relationships with German soldiers and bearing their children. Solberg spoke during a commemmoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The women, then called ‘German girls’, were regarded as traitors and many were arrested, although they had not committed any offense.

In 2015, Solberg apologized for discrimination against Norway’s Roma population before and after the Second World War, calling it a dark part of the country’s history, and promising to pay reparations. Her predecessor, Jens Stoltenberg, apologized in 2012 for the role of his country in deporting Jewish citizens.